Updated Apr 12, 2023 - Politics & Policy

Tim Scott launches exploratory committee for 2024 presidential bid

Screenshot: Tim Scott Presidential Exploratory Committee

Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) announced Wednesday that he is launching an exploratory committee to run for president, becoming the latest Republican to enter the 2024 contest.

Why it matters: Scott's potential presidential bid sets up a match-up with fellow South Carolina Republican Nikki Haley — who recently launched a bid as the two candidates will each look to carve out their own niches within the party's traditional wing.

  • Former President Trump was the first Republican to launch a presidential bid for 2024.
  • "I will never back down in defense of the conservative values that make America exceptional," Scott tweeted along with a video. "That's why I'm announcing my exploratory committee for President of the United States. This fight is personal. I want every American to have the same opportunities I had."

The big picture: Scott, who is the only Black Republican in the Senate, had been inching toward an official campaign launch.

  • He has hired former Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner and longtime Republican operative Rob Collins to co-chair a super PAC to support his political efforts. His Senate campaign had nearly $22 million on hand at the end of last year.
  • "Today our country is once again being tested. Once again, our divisions run deep and the threat to our future is real," Scott said in the video which opens with footage of Fort Sumter in South Carolina's Charleston Harbor, where Scott notes the first shots of the Civil War were fired.
  • "Joe Biden and the radical left have chosen a culture of grievance over greatness," he added, not mentioning any Republican rivals.
  • He accused Democrats of using race to "divide us." "They called me a 'prop,' a 'token,' because I disrupt their narrative," he said.

State of play: Asked how he plans to defeat former Trump during an appearance on "Fox and Friends" Wednesday, Scott avoided mentioning Trump by name and spoke of wanting to share the power of his personal story with Americans.

  • "The field of play is focusing on President Biden's failures. What Americans want to see is the contrast between the radical left and the blueprint to ruin America and why our policies actually work," Scott said.
  • "As opposed to trying to have a conversation about how to beat a Republican, I think we're better off having a conversation about beating Joe Biden," he added.

The backdrop: Scott during a keynote address earlier in February at the Charleston County GOP dinner promoted messages of unity and optimism for America.

  • "The story of America isn’t the original sin, it’s about redemption," Scott said earlier this month. "We have to stop buying the lie that this is the worst time in American history."
  • Growing up in North Charleston, South Carolina, Scott was raised by a single mom. He overcame poverty to become a businessman before running for elected office.
  • Scott has spent more than a decade in Congress. He first served as a representative in the House before becoming a U.S. senator in 2013, after then-Gov. Haley appointed him to a vacant seat.
  • He helped craft the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, including a provision that created tax incentives for businesses that invested in struggling communities.
  • During the Trump administration, he balanced the role of privately educating his GOP colleagues on the racism that he's experienced and speaking on race relations, while trying to keep his relationships, including with Trump, intact, the Washington Post reported in 2020.
  • Scott supported criminal justice and police reform in the wake of George Floyd's death.

What to watch: The rest of the Republican field has yet to take shape.

  • Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is unlikely to make an official announcement on his plans until at least May.

Go deeper... The Republicans who endorsed a Trump challenger in 2024

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional details.

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